Hire for Fit: The Art and Science

Organizations that want a strategic advantage over their competitors must base new hire decisions on far more than skills. Now is the time to integrate best practices into your hiring process to ensure your organization hires candidates who are the right cultural fit as well as the most qualified for the job.

For organizations that have a strongly defined and deeply embedded culture, hiring a large number of new employees risks eroding that culture. These organizations need to continue their focus on culture and hire employees who will build upon it.

But for organizations where the culture is still evolving or undergoing a strategic change, a wave of new hires creates an opportunity. By thoughtfully hiring to evolve culture, organizations will move faster toward their desired state.

Regardless of the motivation, top-performing companies are using one or more of the following best practices to hire people who have a greater chance of success and will help move the organization forward.

1. Consider the candidate's work environment preferences.

Use behavioral-based, open-ended interview questions that specifically target the candidate’s work ethic, personality on the job, work-style attitudes and workplace values. The responses will help gauge a candidate’s passion and how they relate to the organization’s brand, vision and values. Candidates who are a strong cultural fit will usually have a story to tell that directly reflects the question’s underlying corporate value.

2. Expand your interviewing pool.

For some job types it is helpful to have potential team members, internal customers or support staff evaluate the candidate’s cultural fit. By using a panel interview format, more internal stakeholders can be involved in the evaluation of cultural alignment.

3. Assess the candidate "on the job."

Requiring a ride-along can be highly effective for roles throughout an organization. Seeing a candidate in real scenarios gives a firsthand look at performance, including presentation style, interpersonal and communication skills. Onsite visits also give the candidate a better understanding of the position and the organization.

4. Leverage cultural fit surveys.

Cultural assessments can be a relatively inexpensive and valuable solution. Turnover, on the other hand, can cost a company anywhere from one to two times the new hire’s annual salary.

If the candidate has the perfect skill set and is otherwise a potentially great hire, but the survey reveals s/he is lacking cultural alignment, this information provides the opportunity to further the pre-hire conversation. You can use behavioral-based questions in conversation to obtain a deeper understanding of the candidate and understand if the mismatch is surmountable or not.

It’s a fact. Lack of “fit” – not lack of skills – remains the most common reason that new employees fail. Because of the real and intangible cost of employee turnover, companies must make hiring decisions based on both cultural fit and talent. If your organization is not, you’ll likely be left behind.

For more information on hiring quality talent, check out Cielo's Guide to Quality of Hire.